As advances in diagnostics and therapeutic strategies in oncology have increased the number of cancer survivors, the investigation of the mechanisms associated with long-term cognitive complications of cancer treatment has become an important topic of interest. The neurotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents have been described in pre-clinical and clinical research. In vitro and rodent studies have identified some underlying mechanisms contributing to chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity and cognitive impairment for various chemotherapy drugs and other cancer treatments. However, investigation of the direct biological effects of cancer and other potential contributing factors in the pathogenesis of cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) has only recently come into focus. This review will highlight evidence from pre-clinical tumor-bearing rodent models suggesting that cancer influences the cognitive and behavioral changes reported in human cancer populations through direct or indirect pathways that alter the normal neuroinflammatory responses, induce structural brain deficits, and decrease neurogenesis. We reflect on human clinical cancer research indicating that cognitive and behavioral changes precede cancer treatment in some malignancies. We also highlight implications for future areas of CRCI research based on novel findings on the interplay between cancer, chemotherapy, inflammation, tau pathology, and dysregulation of the microbiota-gut-brain axis.